Saturday, March 22, 2008

ASH : spiritual significance


"When any object is consumed by fire, it becomes charred। If that black residue is burnt again, it becomes white ash। White ash continues to remain white even when burnt again. This shows that white is the ultimate and black is proximate to it. Science tells us that diamond and coal are basically one. White and black are not colours. The primary colours get separated from the objects to which they are attached when subjected to the test of fire and ultimately white. Similarly, in the mental and spiritual place, the Ultimate Reality is Siva, who is white and proximate to Him is Parvati, who is dark. When we test everything in the fire of Jnana, or true knowledge, the residue is Siva. Ash in the material plane corresponds to Siva in the spiritual plane. We smear our bodies with the sacred ash to remind ourselves of Siva and the fact that the ultimate goal of life is Siva."
in the words of the Sage of Kanchi.


2 comments:

Anonymous said...

Thank you Dr.Shyam for this divine post on 'Ash' - this three lettered word is full of spiritual significance!

'A' stands for all that is 'auspicious' ( shivam)

'S' stands for all that is Sacred

'H' stands for 'Holy' ( pure)

a Sanskrit term for 'Ash' is Vibhuti.

Many shaivites apply Vibhuti on their forehead as it is considered auspicious and sacred . In the adjoining image of Adi Shankara bhagvadapada , you will see Adi Shankara has applied the three horizontal lines of the Holy Ash on his forehead along with the big red dot of Kumkum in the center .

This has a spiritual significance. It is a gentle reminder to all spiritual aspirants to burn away all desires or vasanas and discard the false ego and be centered in the 'self' that is our real swarupa. (true nature) . The Ash on the forehead also reminds us that this body is perishable and only Atma is permanent and therefore we should avoid false identification with the body , mind and intellect.

Also , the three lines represent the Holy Trinity Shiva , Brahma and sri Vishnu( all the three are equal)and the red dot stands for the divine power 'Shakti' without whose help this Universe cannot be created ! She is the great cosmic energy !

But this 'ash' should be obtained only from a 'homa' that is performed according to vedic injunctions !

Finally , only remains even after Pralaya . All else is reduced to Ashes .

While applying the sacred symbol to the forehead , it is good to recite Maha Mrityuanjaya mantra :

Om Tryambhakam Yajamahe
Sugandhim Pushtivardhanam
Urvarukamiva Bandhanan
Mrityor Mukshiya Maamritat



We worship Lord Shiva the three-eyed one,
the one who is the master of all senses and qualities and the
one who is the sustainer of all growth.
May He release us from the bondage of death
as a ripened cucumber is released from its stalk
and may He grant us immortality.

Om Namaha Shivaye!

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